Cwmbran First World War Memorials

Cwmbran First World War Memorials

The History and Origins of First World World Memorials in Cwmbran, South Wales

War Memorials Covered:-

  • War Memorial, Cwmbran Park
  • Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds WW1 Plaques, Cwmbran Park
  • First World War Memorial Clock Tower, Old Cwmbran
  • WW1 Memorials at Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church, Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran
  • Pontnewydd War Memorial
  • Cwmbran Cemetery, Llantarnam Road
  • Churchyard of St Michael & All Angels Church, Llantarnam
  • First World War Memorials in St Gabriel’s Church, Old Cwmbran
  • First World War Memorials at All Saints Church, Llanfrechfa
  • Monmouthshire County Council WW1 Memorials (formerly displayed at County Hall, Croesyceiliog)
The Book of Remembrance at the base of the Pontnewydd War Memorial

Pontnewydd War Memorial – Book of Remembrance

Introduction

A war memorial is a physical sign of remembrance, intended to preserve the memory of a person or people who have made the supreme sacrifice in war. A war memorial can take any form; anything from an individual’s  personal keep-sake to a written document that records the names of those fallen, or a larger, physical object, either in or outdoors. War memorials do not have to be officially unveiled or dedicated. They can be temporary or permanent. Provided that object can be linked to a war or conflict, it is considered a war memorial.

And Cwmbran in south Wales has a wealth of war memorials. In particular, those originating from the first world war; perhaps a consequential effect of Cwmbran New Town being the product of many nearby villages and hamlets – a union that occurred gradually and then officially in the late forties.

This article attempts to explain the origins behind the most prominent first world war memorials in Cwmbran that still exist today, through my hobby of photography and my personal interest in local war memorial research.

Lest we forget.

Cwmbran War Memorial

In 1949, a Garden of Remembrance was opened in a quiet area of Cocker Avenue Park, Cwmbran, to commemorate the soldiers who had died in both world wars. It was sponsored by the Cwmbran  and Llantarnam British Legion and opened by the President of that organization, Squadron Leader William Irving.

Later, a plain cross of portland stone, made by Moores, the Malpas monumental mason, was added to the garden. The cross and its base, which now stands on top of a stone pedestal, was unveiled by Lord Raglan, J. P., Lord Lieutenant of Monmouthshire on Sunday, 2nd November, 1952. The service was undertaken by the Reverend Glyndwr Richards and the Reverend John Donne.

Cwmbran Cenotaph

Cwmbran War Memorial, Cocker Avenue Park

In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the formation of Cwmbran New Town, the Cwmbran war memorial was refurbished, unveiled and rededicated as part of those celebrations on Sunday 6th June, 1999 by Sir Richard Hanbury Tenison KCVO, H. M. Lord Lieutenant of Gwent and Doug Henderson, MP, Minister of State (Armed Forces).

At the base of the cross, the original words remained inscribed:

1914-1918
TO THE FALLEN
1939-1945

“AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE
SUN AND IN THE MORNING
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM”

Cwmbran war memorial inscription

Cwmbran War Memorial | Inscription at the Base of the Cross

Beneath this inscription are two tablets of Welsh Slate that are attached to the monument’s pedestal. The top Slate was added to the memorial some time after the unveiling ceremony, extending the memorial’s commemorations to those who have fallen in subsequent conflicts.

Bottom inscription on the Cwmbran war memorial

Cwmbran War Memorial | Inscriptions on the Two Tablets of Welsh Slate Attached to the Monument’s Pedestal

The original Slate records the date of the ceremony and lists the locations where the names of the fallen from both world wars are recorded and honoured throughout Cwmbran:-

All Saints Parish Church, Llanfrechfa | Croesyceiliog Cricket and Rugby Club | Ebenezer Baptist Church, Two Locks | Holy Trinity Parish Church, Pontnewydd | Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Henllys | Penywaun United Reformed Church | Pontrhydyrun Baptisit Church | Richmond Road Baptisit Church, Pontnewydd | Salvation Army, Cwmbran | St. Gabriel’s: The Parish Church of Cwmbran | St. Mary’s Church, Croesyceiliog | St. Michael and All Angels Church, Llantarnam

Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds (GKN) Cast Iron Plaques Listing the 150 Men of Cwmbran Who Lost Their Lives in the First World War

Cwmbran War Memorial Cross and the Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds (GKN) Bronze Plaques

Today, the Cwmbran Memorial Cross stands in a paved area and behind it, in a specially built wall,  are three bronze plaques known as the Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds (GKN) plaques. These three plaques list the names of 150 men who were employees of this local company and who lost their lives in the Great War.

Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds (GKN) First World War Memorial Plaques

At the turn of the twentieth century, Cwmbran was a thriving centre of industry. A quick series of company amalgamations, orchestrated  by Arthur Keen, the largest shareholder of the Patent Nut and Bolt Company, resulted in the procurement of the Dowlais Iron, Steel & Coal Company in 1901. And a year later,  a successful merger with his neighbours, Nettlefolds Ltd created Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds Ltd (GKN) in 1902. This was a seriously large industrial company that dominated the centre of Cwmbran. It consisted of coke ovens, a blast furnace, tinplate rolling mills, wire drawing, fasteners and cutting tool manufacture and all the satellite industries needed to support them such as coal, chemicals and administrative functions. It was a profitable company and without doubt, the largest employer in the area.

Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds Ltd, Cwmbran

Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds Ltd, Cwmbran | Courtesy of Britain From Above

In his book, The Days That Have Been – A Cwmbran History, W. G. Lloyd describes the ‘morbid excitement of what was believed by many, to be a brief, successful war in Britain’s favour’,  gripping the people of Cwmbran, when war broke out in August 1914. As mobilization began and National Reserves started to leave for various depots, Messrs  GKN and Company stated that they would pay ten shillings  every week to each of their employees taking up military service with either the Regular Army, the Reserves, Territorials or recruits. Groups of workers enlisted to fight, many of them only to be invalided back or to die on foreign soil.

Great War Propaganda Poster: Is Your Name On A Roll Of Honour?

Is Your Name On A Roll Of Honour?

Within a few years of the armistice, GKN produced a set of bronze cast plaques, recording the names of their employees who had made the supreme sacrifice for King and country. The plaques were originally located in the Work’s administrative building and moved to the Company’s Iron Foundries in Clomendy Road when the GKN Nut and Bolt Works was closed in 1962. The plaques were sent for storage at GKN Shotton Works in Flintshire when further closures occurred. And there they sat, forgotten and destined for the scrap heap when GKN Shotton Works announced closure. If it were not for a remarkable rescue by the Chairman of Cwmbran British Legion, these doomed memorials may have been lost forever. Having received permission to take responsibility for these historical treasures, Cwmbran British Legion had them returned and mounted inside their premises.

Clomendy Road Street Sign, Cwmbran

Clomendy Road Street Sign At the Wall of St Gabriel’s Church, Cwmbran | A Reminder That Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds Foundries Once Occupied This Area

The three GKN plaques, two large and one small, were given a new and permanent home in a purpose built wall, behind the Cwmbran Memorial Cross, in time for the 50th anniversary celebrations in 1999. The GKN plaques were unveiled and dedicated during that same service.

Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds Ltd (GKN) – Cwmbran Colliery – First World War Memorial

List of employees from Cwmbran Colliery who lost their lives in the first world war

Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds Ltd (GKN) Left Plaque | Cwmbran Colliery

The left plaque records in three columns, the names of 84 men from Cwmbran Colliery who gave their lives for King and country in the Great War, 1914-1918. The plaque does not show rank or regiment.

IN EVER GRATEFUL RECOGNITION
OF THE SPLENDID PATRIOTISM AND HEROIC
SELF SACRIFICE OF THE EMPLOYEES OF
GUEST, KEEN & NETTLEFOLDS LTD.
(CWMBRAN COLLIERY)
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR KING
AND COUNTRY IN THE GREAT WAR. 1914-1918.

Column 1: J. Atkins, J. Atkins, A. Bates, W. Brinkworth, W. Chapman, F. Chatman, C. Collier, S. Cook, J. Crimmins, R. Dart, L. J. Davies, W. Daw, H. Driscoll, T. Drummond, J. Edwards, C. Evans, J. Evans, A. Fishlock, R. Hawkins, A. Hiscock, A. Hughes, T. Hughes, J. James, J. Jenkins, J. Johnstone, C. Jones, F. Jones, F. Jones.

Column 2: J. Jones, T. Jones, H. Lawrence, L. Leigh, H. Lewis, I. Lewis, C. Linney, J. Linney, W. Luffman, T. Lyons, J. Meyrick, C. Morgan, J. Morgan, P. Morgan, T. Morgan, W. Newells, J. Nicholas, G. Osborne, S. Pattimore, T. Payne, T. Payne, R. Powell, A. Price, W. Pritchard, J. Raisey, J. Ramsden, W. Rawlings, J. Reynolds.

Column 3: W. Richards, J. Roach, E. Ruddick, F. Skillman, E. Smith, T. Smith, D. Spanswick, J. Spanswick, H. Stanley, G. Taylor, F. Thomas, G. Thomas, W. Thomas, W. Tilton, W. Toms, H. Turner, J. Vince, H. Virgo, P. Virgo, R. Vizard, H. Walker, D. Waters, J. Watts, W. Watts, G. Whitby, F. Williams, R. Williams, A. Woods.

Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds Ltd (GKN) – Newport Wharf – First World War Memorial

List of employees from Newport Wharf who lost their lives in the first world war

Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds Ltd (GKN) Centre Plaque | Newport Wharf

The centre and smallest plaque lists the names of 7 men who were employees at GKN’s Newport Wharf.

J. Bartlett, T. Jones, M. Landers, A. Lewis, J. Price, J. Ryan, H. Soloman.

Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds Ltd (GKN) – Cwmbran Works – First World War Memorial

List of employees from GKN's Cwmbran Works who lost their lives in the Great War

Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds Ltd (GKN) Right Plaque | Cwmbran Works

The plaque on the right records the 59 names of men who were employed at GKN’s Cwmbran Works and who lost their lives in the Great War.

Column 1: W. Andrews, W. W. Bennett, A. Bosworth, J. Butcher, R. Cantle, R. Coles, H. Cordier, R. Cumbley, J. Davies, J. Desmond, T. Dodman, D. Driscoll, T. Fielding, C. Findlay, J. Flello, J. Francis, P. Gimblett, G. Holmes, T. Hulbert, A. Jenkins.

Column 2: C. Jones, J. Jones, K. Jones, J. Kilday, W. Leyshon, W. Maile, R. Morris, A. Nurden, D. O’Brien, W. Parker, R. Pask, C. Passant, S. Pattimore, A. Powell, R. Powell, W. Prangley, H. Price, J. Pym, P. Regan.

Column 3: T. Relihan, A. Richards, W. Rosser, J. Rowlands, F. Skinner, M. Skyrme, W. C. Stevens, C. Stiff, J. Tamplin, C. Thomas, W. H. Tomkins, C. Virgo, R. Wall, F. Watkins, J. Watkins, F. Weldon, A. Wheeler, D. Williams, W. Wood, H. Woodward.

First World War Memorial Clock Tower, Old Cwmbran

Clock Tower War Memorial, Victoria Street, Cwmbran

Cwmbran Clock Tower – First World War Memorial | Photograph Taken July 2014

Following the armistice, the Cwmbran branch of the British Women’s Temperance Association started a collection fund with the aim of providing a building in memory of local men who had fallen in the Great War. But by 1935, it had become clear that their lofty target was not achieveable. So in that same year, the BWTA handed over the full amount of money that had been collected to the local Council. That money was used to purchase a war memorial in the form of a public clock. The clock tower was erected in February 1936 on an island in the middle of the road by Cwmbran Urban District Council as a joint gift from rate-payers and the BWTA.

The official unveiling of the Memorial Clock Tower was conducted by Mrs. Annie Kelly, the oldest member of the Temperance branch, on 18th June 1936. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of people and dignitaries from the town. The memorial dedication was performed by Reverend John Donne, the Vicar of Llantarnam.

Unveiling of Cwmbran Clock Tower 18th June 1936

The Unveiling of First World War Memorial Clock Tower in Cwmbran – 18th June 1936 | Image used with Permission & Courtesy of Cwmbran Community Council

The Memorial Clock Tower captured the imagination of the public back then for it was powered with electricity; a power source that had only been introduced to Cwmbran some five years earlier.

The two plaques attached to the clock tower make no mention of its origins. One of the plaques reads:-

THIS
CLOCK TOWER
WAS ERECTED
BY
THE URBAN
DISTRICT COUNCIL
OF CWMBRAN

W. E. BROWN, C. C., J. P. Chairman

WILLIAM CLARK, Clerk

FEBRUARY 1936

The other plaque commemorates the men of Cwmbran who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War, 1914-1918. A line from John XV 13 is quoted at the bottom of the plaque:

“Greater love hath no man than this
that a man lay down his life for his friends”

First world war plaque on the Old Cwmbran War Memorial Clock

Old Cwmbran War Memorial Clock | In Memory of the Men of Cwmbran Who Made the Supreme Sacrifice in the Great War, 1914-1918

The Memorial Clock Tower was re-dedicated on 7th September 2007 after it had been taken down for renovation work in the summer of that year. The £17,000 restoration project was funded by the Cwmbran Regeneration Partnership and specialist clock makers and restorers, Messrs Gillett & Johnston undertook the refurbishment work.

Conducting the re-dedication service that evening was Reverend Fr. Michael J. Phillips and in attendance with him were; The Major of Torfaen, Councillor Bill King and his consort Janet King, Tom Matthews, Chairman of Cwmbran Community Council and Nigel Davies, Chairman of Croesyceiliog and Llanyrafon Community Council, church representatives and the Cwmbran Salvation Army Band. Of the local residents who came to witness the re-dedication of this war memorial, several elderly gentlemen and women had been present at the original unveiling, 71 years ago.

Every year on Remembrance Sunday, the procession from Clomenday Road to the War Memorial at Cocker Avenue Park arrives at the Memorial Clock Tower on Victoria Street for people to pay their respects at 10:30 am.

Two minutes silence at the clock tower in Old Cwmbran

Cwmbran War Memorial Clock Tower – Remembrance Sunday 2013

Still,  this memorial remains dedicated solely to the Cwmbran men who lost their lives in the first world war.  And quite sadly, it does not officially commemorate losses from any other conflict.

Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church First World War Memorial, Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran

Close to the main entrance of Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church at Chapel Lane, Cwmbran, stands a very impressive first world war memorial in memory of men from that church and congregation who were killed in the Great War.

Pontrhydyrun First World War Memorial, Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran

First World War Memorial | Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church, Cwmbran

Funded by public subscription and at a cost of £100,  this memorial takes the form of a classical, tall, square-section pedestal with chamfers that diminish towards the wider base. The column incorporates a frieze beneath a square, egg-and-dart corniced cap. A short Celtic Cross adorns the top of the memorial. The memorial  stands on a steeply-chamfered plinth. This first world war memorial was unveiled on Thursday, 13th July 1922, making it the oldest WW1 memorial of this type in Cwmbran. It was classified as a Grade II listed building on 30th July 2003.

The war memorial is aligned so that the main face can be seen by the congregation entering the church. It reads:

ERECTED
TO THE MEMORY
OF
THE GLORIOUS DEAD
OF THIS CHURCH
AND CONGREGATION
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES
FOR KING AND COUNTRY
IN THE GREAT WAR
1914-1919

Although the most common dates used on first world war memorials are 1914-1918, the inscription on this one uses the year that the Treaty of Versailles was signed and the war was officially ended –  1919.

The memorial lists the names of 23 men in alphabetical order on the remaining three faces of the column without rank, regiment or date of death.

Names Listed on the Right Face of the Pontrhydyrun War Memorial:-

Clifford Bowles, Raymond Dart, Ralph Fisher, Lionel John George, Frank Holcombe, William Jones, Daniel Jones, Bert King.

Names Listed on the Rear Face of the Pontrhydyrun War Memorial:-

Archie Lee, Lewis Leigh, T. J. Lewis, Charles Morgan, Joseph Morgan, George Osborne, Raymond Pauling, Robert Pask.

Names Listed on the Left Face of the Pontrhydyrun War Memorial:-

Alfred Price, Clifford Thomas, Richard Vizard, Arthur Wassel, Tom Waters, John Watkins, William Williams.

Cwmbran war-dead listed on the Pontrhydyrun War Memorial in detail.

In the churchyard of Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church, a distinctive, white, Commonwealth Grave stands out from the multitude of black marble and stone-carved headstones. It is the headstone of Ordinary Seaman R. H. Mason (Service No: Wales Z/5313), Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, who died at the age of 17 years on 13th October 1918. He lived at 6, St. Mary Street, Griffithstown, Pontypool with his parents, Isaac and Annie Mason.

The headstone of Ordinary Seaman R. H. Mason - Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church, Cwmbran

Ordinary Seaman R. H. Mason | Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church, Cwmbran

Also in this churchyard, two other casualties of the Great War are commemorated on two separate family monuments, next to the first world war memorial.

Able-Seaman John Cuthbert Phillips (Service No: 14672) of  HMS Defence was lost with all hands (903 officers and men) when the ship was blown apart at the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916 . He died at the age of 22 years. He is also commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

John Cuthbert Phillips - Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church

The Death of John Cuthbert Phillips Commemorated on His Family’s Grave at Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church

Second-Lieutenant Eric Rowland Thomas of the 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment was 23 years old when he was killed at Messines on 13th June 1917. He is buried in the Kandahar Farm Cemetery in Belgium.

Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church - Family Grave of Eric Rowland Thomas

The Death of Eric Rowland Thomas is Commemorated on His Family Grave at Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church (Left)

Pontnewydd War Memorial

The Pontnewydd war memorial, at the junction of Lowlands Road and Clark Avenue,  is a prominent landmark and stands outside the former Council offices, surrounded by black railings of wrought iron. The memorial was  unveiled on Wednesday 11th November 1925 by Hon. Colonel of the 3rd Battalion, Monmouthshire Regiment, Major-General Lord Treowen, CB, CMG, to commemorate the heroic endeavour of the 26 men  from the communities of Pontnewydd, Cwmbran and Croesyceiliog, who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War.

Pontnewydd cenotaph and war memorial, south Wales

Pontnewydd War Memorial, July 2014

The cenotaph takes the form of a granite obelisk, surmounted on a square pedestal. The front face of the memorial bears the inscription:-

To the
Glorious Memory
of
The men of this district
Who gave their lives
In the Great War
1914-1918

“Their name liveth for evermore”

The war memorial was refurbished in 2006, thanks to the generosity of the local Royal British Legion and Torfaen Council. It was re-dedicated on Sunday 1st October 2006; the ceremony being attended by local dignitaries, the Welsh Piping Society, a detachment of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia) and veterans organisations.

The war memorial now commemorates those lost in conflicts after the first world war. The right face of the memorial states:-

And to the
Glorious memory of
The men of this district
Who gave their lives in the
Second World War
1939-1945
We will remember them.

The left face of the Pontnewydd war memorial reads:-

IN DEDICATION OF THE
MEN OF THIS DISTRICT WHO GAVE
THEIR LIVES IN SUBSEQUENT CONFLICTS

ER COF AM WYR YR ARDAL HON A ABERTHODD
EU BYWYDAU MEWN BRWYDRAU DILYNOL

CYPRUS 1956
G. EDWARDS

AFGHANISTAN
K. J. ADAMS
J. J. H. PROSSER
M. J. THACKER

At the foot of the memorial is a Book of Remembrance, recording on the left, the names of the 26 men who were lost in the Great War. The right page lists the 41 names of local men who perished in world war 2.

The names of the fallen from both world wars in the book of remembrance at the foot of the Pontnewydd war memorial

Pontnewydd War Memorial | The Book of Remembrance

The Pontnewydd war memorial Book of Remembrance reads:-

IN DEDICATION OF THE MEN OF
THIS DISTRICT WHO GAVE THEIR
LIVES IN THE TWO GREAT WARS

1914-1918

Column 1: C. Butcher, J. Butcher, H. N. Carter, S. Cook, W. E. Daw, J. Edwards, C. Hale, R. Hawkins, N. A. Hayles, C. L. James, C. Linney, C. Morgan, E. Morgan.

Column 2: R. Morris, A. S. Nurden, E. G. Oakley, T. A. Payne, A. Pinches, S. C. Probert, J. R. Ramsden, A. J. Rawlings, J. Rowlands, I. H. Tucker, J. Watts, W. Watts, J. Williams.

1939-1945

Column 1: A. G. Badham, A. J. Berry, W. E. Bowen, I. Burden, J. C. Burke, R. Carpenter, R. J. Casely, W. Davies, R. Dixon, C. J. Edwards, S. J. Edwards, W. G. Edwards, J. C. Francis, J. B. Gay, K. J. Goss, R. H. Goss, S. J. Harris, W. James, R. Jenkins, D. Jones, M. Jones.

Column 2: J. N. Kellow, W. E. King, D. Macdonald, G. D. Griffiths, R. V. Millership, R. J. Partridge, M. Pearson, W. H. Pontin, L. G. Poole, H. R. Price, C. C. I. Roberts, A. Shellard, S. J. Short, B. St Ledger, L. W. Sumner, J. H. Sykes, H. L. Vaughn, A. Williams, C. Williams, I. Williams.

The Book of Remembrance at the base of the Pontnewydd War Memorial

Pontnewydd War Memorial – Book of Remembrance

 

Cwmbran Cemetery – Llantarnam Road

The cemetery on Llantarnam Road contains eleven first world war graves. In alphabetical order:-

Private P. Desmond (Service No: 2216), 2/2nd Battalion, Monmouthshire Regiment, enlisted at Pontypool under the name of John Shea. This is the name shown on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone. He was born in Cwmavon, lived in Cwmbran, and died on 3rd October 1916. Grave reference: C.2.24

Grave of Private P. Desmond AKA John Shea

Private P. Desmond Served As John Shea | Cwmbran Cemetery – Llantarnam

Driver H. Head (Service No: 668), 3rd Monmouthshire Battery, 4th Welsh Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, died 7th November 1918. He had transferred to the Labour Corps (Service No: 202371). Grave reference: A.15.19

Grave of Driver H. Head

Driver H. Head | Cwmbran Cemetery – Llantarnam

Private Frank Holmes (Service No: T/384710), Royal Army Service Corps, died aged 34, on 17th January 1921. Son of Henry and Julia Holmes of Cwmbran. Grave reference: D.3.6

Headstone of Private Frank Holmes who deid in the first world war

Private Frank Holmes | Cwmbran Cemetery – Llantarnam

Private John Jenkins  enlisted into the Monmouthshire Regiment at Pontypool (Service No: 2853). He later transferred to 587th Area Employment Company, Labour Corps (service No: 428774) and died 11th March 1918. He lived in Cwmbran and was married to Elizabeth Kate Jenkins. Grave reference: A.16.25

Private John Meredith (Service No: 1586), Welsh Regiment, was 27 when he died 9th June, 1917. Grave reference: A.15.23

The grave of John Meredith who died in the first world war and is buried in Cwmbran cemetery, Llantarnam

Private John Meredith | Cwmbran Cemetery – Llantarnam

Private George Penn (Service No: 49720), 14th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, was born in Oakfield and enlisted into the army at Newport. His parents were Thomas and Polly Penn and he lived with his wife, Elsie Penn, at 20 Tranquil Place, Cwmbran. Private Penn died, aged 29 years, on 17th September 1918 from wounds received in France. Grave reference: B.6.32

The grave of Private George Penn who died in the Great War and is buried at Cwmbran cemetery, Llantarnam

Private George Penn | Cwmbran Cemetery – Llantarnam

Private Gwyn Pugh (Service No: 72829), 17th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, was the son of Frederick and Mrs M. Pugh of Holly Bush, Cwmbran. Buried in a private family grave, his date of death is shown as 19th March 1919. The records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, along with Soldiers Who Died In The Great War, gives 2 March. He was 21 years old. Grave reference: B.7.14. The headstone is no longer erect.

The Pugh family headstone where Private Gwyn Pugh is buried

The Family Grave of Private Gwyn Pugh | Cwmbran Cemetery – Llantarnam

Private Mark Skyrme (Service No: 1166), 3rd/1st Battalion, Herefordshire Regiment, was born at Vowchurch, Herefordshire. He died of phthisis on 12th April 1916, at the age of 29 years. He is buried in a private family grave. His parents, Stephan and Emily Skyrme lived at 31 Llandowlias Street, Cwmbran. Grave reference: B.6.18. Mark’s name is shown on the left stone, which has toppled into the earth.

The family grave of Private Mark Syrme

Private Mark Skyrme | Cwmbran Cemetery – Llantarnam

Sergeant Percy Virgo (Service No: 14947), 9th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, was 26 years old when he died on 3rd August 1916. He was born in Newport and was husband of T. Morris (formerly Virgo) of 92, Coronation Road, Cwmbran. Grave reference: B.6.9

Virgo – In ever loving memory of Sergt. Percy Virgo, S. W. Borderers, son-in-law of Mrs Whately, of Cwmbran, who died suddenly at Kimmel Park, Rhyl, August 3, 1916, aged 26 years.

Just one year has passed away;
How we miss his loving face;
But he left us to remember
None on earth can fill his place.

The grave of Sergeant Percy Virgo, buried at Llantarnam cemetery, Cwmbran

Sergeant Percy Virgo | Cwmbran Cemetery – Llantarnam

Private F. C. Walby (Service No: T/43606), Royal Army Service Corps, died 10th February, 1919. Grave reference: A.2.37

The grave of Private F. C. Walby, Llantarnam cemetery, Cwmbran

Private F. C. Walby | Cwmbran Cemetery – Llantarnam

Private Joseph Weyman (Service No: 818), ‘B’ Company, 1st Battalion, Welsh Regiment, was gassed in France and died at home on 14th March 1919. He was 32 years old and the son of Daniel and Annie Weyman of Blaenavon. Grave reference: B.7.33

The grave of Private J. Weyman at Llantarnam cemetery in Cwmbran

Private Joseph Weyman | Cwmbran Cemetery – Llantarnam

St Michael and All Angels Church – Llantarnam

The Parish Church of St Michael and All Angels is set back from the old main road from Newport to Pontypool, next door to the historic, and very popular Greenhouse Inn in Llantarnam. Notably, the churchyard contains the grave of Private John Williams (John Fielding) V.C. of the South Wales Borderers, who fought at the battle of Rorke’s Drift, Natal, during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. His resting place is close to the main road and the Greenhouse Inn.

The Grave of John William Fielding, Llantarnam, Cwmbran

John Fielding – 1395 Private John Williams V. C.

At the start of the Great War, John Fielding joined the 3rd Volunteer Battalion of the South Wales Borderers, holding the rank of Sergeant. He became a recruiting agent in Cwmbran and in 1915, he became stationed at the Regiment’s depot in Brecon.

John’s oldest son, Tom Fielding, imitated his father’s earlier career by joining the South Wales Borderers at the outbreak of the first world war, although he did not share his father’s good fortune in battle. During the British Army’s retreat from Mons, Tom was killed on 26th September 1914. His death is commemorated on the GKN Cwmbran Works Plaque, situated at Cwmbran Park. John Fielding Junior served in the Dorsetshire Regiment and survived the conflict unharmed.

At the back of the churchyard is the first world war grave of Guardsman  Penry Morgan (Service No: 12980), 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards, who fought and was wounded in France by an enemy shell on 12th March 1915. He died at Hammersmith Hospital, London, from leg wounds on 31st March 1915 at the age of 26 years. He was buried with full military honours on 4 April 1915.

The grave of Guardsman Penry Morgan from Cwmbran who died in the Great War

Guardsman Penry Morgan | St Michael & All Angels Churchyard, Llantarnam, Cwmbran

Comprehensive research on Guardsman Penry Morgan has been compiled here.

St Gabriel’s Church, Clomendy Road, Old Cwmbran

In recognition of the local men who made the supreme sacrifice for King and country in the Great War, a church organ was installed in St Gabriel’s Church, Old Cwmbran, in January 1925. Over a year later on Thursday 11th November 1926, Colonel Sir Joseph A. Bradney, CB, TD, DL unveiled the second part of that war memorial, consisting of two items made from British oak:  an eagle lectern and a  tablet  attached to the side of the organ, surmounted by the figure of Christ on the Cross. During that ceremony a crowded church heard the Colonel say:

“It is a singular honour for me to be asked to unveil this memorial…
… This tablet of British oak will remain in the church as long as the church itself will stand.”

The names of 86 local men are carved into the wooden tablet with the lettering accentuated in gold. The names are listed alphabetically and in four columns beneath the words:-

TO THE GLORY AND IN PROUD MEMORY OF
THE MEN OF LLANTARNAM AND CWMBRAN WHO MADE
THE SUPREME SACRIFICE IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918.

1st Column: T.J. Anstey, Jas. Atkins, Jno. Atkins, A. Bates, W. Bennett, W. H. Bishop, L. Bumstead, J. Butcher, W. H. Chapman, R. H. Cole, C. Collier, S. Cook, R. C. Cumbley, A. G. Davies, W. E. Dawson, J. Desmond, D. Driscoll, T. Drummond, T. Fielding, R. Fisher

2nd Column: J. Flello, W. K. Heastie, A. G. Hinton, G. Holmes, C. Howells, S. G. Hunt, J. James, T. W. James, J. Johnson, C. Jones, J. W. Jones, K. Jones, H. Lawrence, H. W. Lewis, T. Lewis, W. Leyshon, W. Luffman, T. Lyons, T. Martin, J. Meredith, J. Morgan, P. Morgan

3rd Column: W. F. Morgan, W. S. Orpwood, G. F. Parker, W. Parker, S. Pattemore, E. Phillips, L. Reece, A. Richards, W. J. Richards, J. Rowlands, C. Salter, W. F. Scammels, S. Seymour, F. Skillman, J. Skyrme, M. Skyrme, D. Spanswick, J. Spanswick, G. P. Steer, C. Stiff, J. Tamplin, C. Thomas

4th Column: C. F. Thomas, W. Thomas, W. G. Tomkins, W. A. Trotman, H. R. Turner, E. Vaughan, R. Wall, D. J. Watkins, P. G. Waygood, H. J. Weeks, F. Weldon, C. E. Whatley, G. Whitby, A. E. Willliams, C. G. Williams, R. Williams, W. E. Williams, W. J. Wood, C. R. Woodward, H. Woodward

The words Lest We Forget complete the fourth column.

And the inscription:

MAKE THEM TO BE NUMBERED WITH THE SAINTS

adorns the bottom of the war memorial.

The eagle lectern has these words carved into its stem:

In Proud And Glorious Memory Of Our Loved Ones Who Fell In The Great War 1914-1918

On the north wall of St Gabriel’s Church, a small marble tablet commemorates the death of one man whos name also appears on the organ’s oak tablet. It reads:

IN MEMORY
OF OUR COMRADE
PTE. C. R. WOODWARD
A.S.C.
DIED ON ACTIVE SERVICE
FRANCE 7TH MAY 1917

Charles Rupert Woodward served with 8th Field Bakery, Army Service Corps and was 20 years old when he died of pneumonia at the 5th Stationary Hospital in Dieppe. He is buried in Janval Cemetery, Dieppe, I. G. 5.

Charles Woodward Obituaries:

WOODWARD – In loving memory of our dear son, Charles Rupert Woodward, A.S.C. of Cwmbran, who died at the 5th Stationary Hospital, Dieppe, France, on May 7, 1917.
Could we have raised his dying head,
Or heard his last farewell,
The pain would not have been so hard
For those who loved him well.
Deeply mourned by his mother and father, sister and brothers.

WOODWARD – In loving memory of Pte. C. R. Woodward, A.S.C. who died in France May 7 1917. The beloved son of Charles John and Mary Ann Woodward, Somerset House Cwmbran.
Dearer to memory than words can tell
Are the thoughts of him we loved so well.
Ever remembered by his mam and dad, sisters and brother.

References, Acknowledgements & Notes:-

  1. Days That Have Been – A Cwmbran History, W. G. Lloyd.
  2. Cwmbran – Volume 1, Dr. Gareth D. John & Graham H. Lawrence.
  3. First World War Graves and Memorials in Gwent – Volume 1, Ray Westlake.
  4. Roll of Honour – W. G. Lloyd.
  5. Wikipedia.
  6. Commonwealth War Graves Commission
  7. http://www.cwmbransdead.shaunmcguire.co.uk/
  8. http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/
  9. Many thanks to Cwmbran Community Council in supporting my endeavour and allowing me to use their image of the original unveiling of the Cwmbran Clock War Memorial in 1936.
  10. All photographs taken by me in July 2014 unless otherwise stated.
  11. These and more high resolution images of Cwmbran’s First World War Memorials can be viewed here, courtesy of my time and Flickr.
  12. This has been a huge project to complete on my own. If there are any errors or omissions, or you have more details that you would like to have included, please contact me.
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